Wednesday, June 02, 2004

 

Meetings

The Proprietor's Law - An organization or project's effectiveness is inversely proportional to the number of conference calls and meetings held and mandated.

The great black hole of meetings and conference calls has consumed this day. I figure I spend on average about 25-30% of my time every week on these. The interesting, if one could call it that, thing about them is that usually they fall roughly into the format of Superbowl Sunday, the pre-pre-game show, the pre-game show, the game itself, and then the post-mortem. Usually one is required to repeat one's status at each of these meetings, and the usual question asked is why there is little progress reported. This of course excludes time needed to prepare status reports, presentations and the like.

I have a little axiom in that any project that requires resources to work much over 45 hours a week is a poorly planned and managed project. Similarly, people doing this sort of work are generally big boys and girls that can be trusted to communicate something proactively, clearly and effectively, and making them do it repeatedly as a result of overactive management is a waste of precious project dollars. But then again, most deliverables land with a big thud, and get gracefully filed away.

Just as a sidenote, I recommend playing Bullshit Bingo during meetings to keep one's sanity. For those unfamiliar with it, basically just create a bingo card, but instead of numbers, put management buzzwords or phrases into the boxes. Examples include "At the end of the day", "Let's take that offline", "Value added", and the current favorite "Running out of runway". When you get five in a row, shout "Bullshit!" (usually only a good idea if you're on mute or no one is mentioning Bangalore) or if less brave, mutter "Bingo".

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